What is death?
Do we disappear from existence or continue in another form?
Are we re-
Do we remain a unique being on a transformational journey or do we live on only in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved us?
Do we return to the source, God, nirvana, whatever name we give the Mystery that lies on the other side of death, or is death a dark flight down into oblivion?
There is no single answer to ‘what is death?’ Death is as multi-
Our life continually evolves. This means there can be no absolute answers to questions about either life or death -
Death is intrinsic to life. Life would have no meaning without death. Life would be banal, insignificant and meaningless if it never ended. Without death we would not be driven to create anything, freedom would become worthless, and there would be no love and no need for love. Death renders life almost unbearably meaningful.
What happens when we die?
The person asking that question dies. The ego dies. The personality dies. Fear dies. Our cognitive mind and all our protective strategies die. But the energies of who and what we have become while alive do not die. They are transformed.
We tend to think of ourselves primarily as separate unique individuals, yet that is only part of us. We are complex individuals with many aspects, and different parts of us die differently. Death is not a singular event; it is a process with as many dimensions as the life that preceded it. As the Roman Poet Horace wrote: ‘Non omnis moriar – not all of me will die.’
Some of the dimensions of death belong to our human world, are part of the continual evolution of life on earth. Some dimensions belong to the cosmos in a different way, are part of a mystery so vast we can never comprehend it.
Some parts of who we were while alive are gone forever, this is the inconsolability of grief when someone we love dies. Other parts live on in the memories and hearts of people who knew us. Our body becomes molecules in other life-
Some parts may remain connected with the living as inspiration, guidance in dreams, healing forces and so on. Some may enter another configuration of energies and re-
Some parts may fall into the absolute freedom of emptiness. Some parts may be gone forever.
Exactly what happens when we die will be unique for each one of us because how we die depends on how we lived. And although there is common ground in aspects of our lives, each one of us lives a life unlike any other.
Descriptions of what happens after death that have their roots in mediaeval and feudal societies or cultures very different from ours, cannot fully describe what will happen to us on our death. Partly this is because our experience of who and what we are has changed as society has changed. The rights and freedoms of the individual are far more important to us in modern culture than previously, where one’s tribe, caste or class defined a person far more than one’s unique individuality. Death is more potent in our individualised society. Because it is the individual who dies, not the community he or she belonged to.
In my workshops we explore what death means for our lives in our modern world, what might be our culture’s narrative of death and what, therefore, might unfold for us when we die.